Protective effect of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens against infections of Citrus aurantium seedlings by Phoma tracheiphila.
Isolate TEB1 an antagonistic endophytic bacterium, obtained from citrus leaves and identified as Bacillus amyloliquefaciens by 16S rDNA sequencing, was used for the biological control of mal secco disease of Citrus aurantium seedlings caused by the mitosporic fungus Phoma tracheiphila. The isolate TEB1 exhibited a good in vitro activity against P. tracheiphila in dual cultures as well as with the well diffusion method. C. aurantium seedlings watered with a suspension of TEB1 cells showed a reduction of 53.61 and 48.63% in disease severity and incidence, respectively. A PCR test with specific primers was performed 365 days after inoculation and P. tracheiphila was detected along the whole stem in inoculated control plant while no amplification product was obtained in TEB1 treated seedlings. Molecular analysis of TEB1 revealed a positive amplification of fenD and ituC genes responsible of the biosynthesis of fengycin and iturin lipopeptides, respectively. Moreover, observations by optical microscope showed that TEB1 reduced by 55% the germination of P. tracheiphila conidia and exhibited a marked effect on mycelia structure. Data suggest that lipopeptides produced by the bacterium interact with the cytoplasmic membrane of the fungus causing pore formation. TEB1 appears a potential candidate for the biological control of citrus mal secco disease.